Discoveries in Gratitude

1100-relax-and-succeed-interrupt-anxiety-with-gratitudeA feeling of want cannot exist without thoughts of being incomplete. You want this relationship, this person, this thing, this job, this money, this respect, this opinion. But opinions are just thoughts. There is no point in even trying to manage someone’s history, or something as ephemeral as someone’s constantly adjusting perspective. Which means no one’s opinion is truly worth you even thinking about. It would change anyway.

Respect is worth little unless it is self-respect. Lots of people have respected others who committed horribly violent acts, but it is difficult to respect oneself when people either worship or fear you because both of those things are sublimation, not cooperation. They aren’t with you, they just don’t want to be against you. With self respect you can be all alone and you can still comfortably stand up for what you believe in.

Money is a proxy. It isn’t anything more than a storage device for the value of your work or maybe your family’s work (and if you own something, then everyone who works for you volunteers to give you a portion of their daily value). But even if you get lots of it, impressing someone with money or things is mistaking sizzle for steak. They aren’t impressed with you, they are impressed with what you can potentially do for them. Stop doing it and you’re back to being worth nothing to them because it was never you in the first place.

1100-relax-and-succeed-people-were-created-to-be-lovedNo matter how cool a job looks there are always downsides. What thing has only one side? You obviously can’t have an upside if there’s no downside. So famous musicians have to battle with who they can trust, or with drug and alcohol issues, or with always being away from home. Big business people spend a lot of their lives with lawyers and accountants. Little jobs have less power and pressure but they also have less control. Whatever you get you give something up. Managers are less likely to be able to use their status to leave early; they’re more likely to leave late.

Things are things. A new outfit doesn’t change who you are to anyone unless you’re very young, and even then…. Doctors can have their stethoscope and white coat ceremony when they enter med school but they know nothing more after they put it on than before. Lots of people are terrible drivers in beautiful cars. And cars get dated, clothes get dated, fads are group-think and they’re subject to constant change.

Which brings us significant people. When you’re living in ego, thinking your way through life; when someone moves away from you don’t see that as having to do with them, you think that’s about you. Your translation is that if they don’t want to be close to you that there’s something wrong with you, when just as many people leave personal relationships because they don’t feel good about themselves.

1100-relax-and-succeed-awareness-is-like-the-sunFinally, if one particular person doesn’t love you, then that does not leave you unloved, whether it’s a romantic relationship or even your own parents. Unloveable? Seriously. There’s over seven billion of us. There are only so many ways to be, so we would surely find millions who knew experiences like ours and who understood and loved us.

Today’s meditation is easy. If you’re working with a partner or partners then set a time to discuss your findings and then you have from now until then to find five things to be genuinely and significantly grateful for that you’ve previously taken for granted. Five things that you’ll share with your partner(s) at your prescribed time.

Remember, these have to be things you haven’t considered before. The idea is to expand your ability to enjoy life by getting you to see it as more expansive than you’ve previously realised. To do this it can only be you pushing out your own envelope, but it’s a pretty nice task to be asked to find things that please you.

1100-relax-and-succeed-thank-youThey’re always there. Find them. Seriously. If you don’t take this simple task seriously then you aren’t taking changing your life seriously–and that’s fine. But don’t avoid changing it and then complain. Either change it or keep it, but if you keep it then finding five things should extra easy. And remember, this is important. These exercises are all much more meaningful than you ego can appreciate. These are how you get to where you want to be.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Performance

1044-relax-and-succeed-half-of-life-is-lost-in-charming-othersI know you’ve believed it all of your life. You think people are being figurative when we tell you that reality happens in your imagination but we’re not. And until you face that absolute fact that ties us all together, you will suffer because you will spend all of your time trying to satisfy a bunch of other people’s heads when that’s impossible because they all see you their own way.

Your belief is that reality is the events and practices of your life. You can’t be happy at work because it’s called work and you reserve your happiness for the word play. You’re like that to the point where you can even dislike other people for the fact that they love their job. Or maybe you you believe you can only be happy if you’re with one particular person because the definition of you as half of that partnership is all you need to cause your brain chemistry to change.

1044-relax-and-succeed-anxiety-is-the-worst-use-of-imaginationSo you’ve let your society tell you what’s good and what’s bad and you live up to it. For the vast majority of you, any unknown food is also an unwanted one. Pregnancy has to be an awful, painful experience you need drugs for. Or if someone in your family is afraid of heights they can teach you to be too. But does it really seem likely that heights themselves are dangerous? Of course not, people stand at the edge of substantial heights all the time.

Could I find people who like unpopular things? Could I find people who love their job? Can I find women who valued pregnancy and went through it without drugs? Due to simply no other choice, that would be more than half the women on Earth so you can definitely find them. And as noted, there’s no shortage of people walking in places featuring extremely high heights. Maybe you also believe these people are working with more than you are. Maybe you really just aren’t that good. Unfortunately, that one probably is believable to you.

Your life is an emotional experience. You list it as things that made you happy and things that made you sad, when really it’s things you allowed yourself to think gratefully about, versus things you want to be different. It isn’t the difference you need to gain, it’s the wanting you need to lose.

1044-relax-and-succeed-you-were-born-an-originalYou perform so much of your life to please others it’s ridiculous. Every life has challenges and it is experience that helps us find where the line is between things we should accept versus things we should put our energy into changing. But if you want to change yourself every time someone else wants you to act this or that way then you’re not even living your own life, you’re reading a bunch of other people’s disconnected scripts.

Go ahead, be yourself. The people who will respond most positively to it are your people and you don’t need anything to earn their love and support other than be yourself. It’s so much more relaxing that it leaves you tons of extra energy that you can use to become even better version of you. Stop wanting your life to be different. Appreciate how it is. Because the latter happens inside your head, meaning the act of appreciation is always within your control. And if you’ve got that, you’ve got happiness no matter where you are.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Wanting More

908 Relax and Succeed - It's only your egoWhen people start to work on themselves spiritually or psychologically it is usually because they want to feel better than they currently do. But wanting inevitably involves a time other than now–a time in which you hope to have your want filled. Therefore it is impossible to be in a state of wanting and to simultaneously also be fully present in the now.

People find this easier to grasp when they think of trying to not want foods that aren’t good for them, or from spending too much, or any other thing they’ve done for years. Those are pretty material, physical things that we can imagine doing and stopping. So we can want a million dollars, but we learn if we can’t have it in this moment then we’re better to stop wanting it because the wanting will create our suffering.

908 Relax and Succeed - Remember that sometimesThe trickier wants to prevent and stop are the ones you don’t see as wants. Things like wanting to be loved, wanting to be understood, wanting to understand, wanting to know what happened, wanting to be somewhere else, wanting to be with someone else, wanting to feel better, wanting spiritual growth–these are the ones that eat away at our lives.

Jealousy, envy, comparison, worry, stress, longing, frustration, anger–these all require wanting. Wanting someone to date you instead of someone else, wanting to have a particular waistline, wanting to know who’s getting laid-off, wanting to have your career progress more quickly, wanting something to stop, wanting something to start, wanting a different history or a different future, wanting to be enlightened–these are all just variations on optional suffering.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering simply arises because of our wanting. Modern life, elements of language and the complexities of large-scale social structures have created environments that can leave us feeling inadequate when really we’re just being asked to be good at too many different things.

908 Relax and Succeed - A secret to happinessWe all know people that are good with their hands or others who are great at calculation, or others who are physically strong or brave. Yet we built a world in which each us us is expected to be good at all of these things. This is what ultimately leads to us turning our thoughts against ourselves in our desire to be a version of complete that was never intended by nature. It imagined us working together, not each of us trying to be everything to everyone.

Understandably, under constant stress to be too many things, we either want changes to other people or changes to ourselves. So rather than flow with life and turn our attention to the many gifts life always brings, instead we time travel, scanning and searching our future and past for any damaged caused or potentially caused by our inadequacies. Too few people see avenues of intense interest. Most are navigating through their fears.

Be free instead. Watch for your wanting today. Note how it’s always there when you’re suffering. Remove the desire, remove the want. They’re only made of thoughts. Refocus them elsewhere. It’s really easy. All you have to do is practice. Will you?

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Graceful Reactions

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #4

892 Relax and Succeed - Kindness is always fashionableAs you move through these exercises keep in mind that you are in fact meditating. You don’t have to be cross-legged in robes going Ooohhhmmmm. You can just be consciously working your awareness to increase its scope. So the value in thinking about others is ultimately that it prevents us from creating a me.

We started off the week by giving someone unpleasant some positive verbal feedback. Then we shifted to doing something nice for someone even if you don’t like them, and today we’ll focus on how you react to challenging people in real time.

The key to your meditation is to remember not to take people’s behaviour personally. This can be challenging when they’re standing there doing it, but in reality they are not talking to you. They are talking to an idea of you, and a transient one at that. And don’t blame them for that, even you have these about yourself. Just think back to who you were five years ago. Different person, right?

892 Relax and Succeed - Don't be surprisedWhen someone’s upset with you they are upset that their expectations weren’t met. Of course, you had no knowledge of their expectations nor could you ever hope to keep track of everyone’s, and even if you could do that, what would you do when they conflicted? If one friend is upset with your neighbour and they want you to support them, but you also want you to be that other neighbour’s friend too, how can you meet both expectations?

No, your job is not to try and meet people’s or society’s expectations. They can have them, but people go outside of those lines every day. Those expectations are their issue just like yours are yours. It’s even worse when you’re really attached to that expectation. Ouch. It’ll hurt even if you’re talking to the nicest person in the world if they can’t give you want you want.

When someone’s upset it’s because they want something, rather than listen to their words personally try listening to them for the want. Maybe you can meet the want happily or maybe you can’t. Maybe you can ease their loss by giving them something else instead–like when they’re heartbroken they missed seeing someone before they left so you hug them to help them feel better. That works too.

892 Relax and Succeed - Anger is a misdirected pleaDo not think angry or upset people are talking to you. They’re talking to the world. You just happen to be in front of them, whether it’s the first time they met you or if you see them every day. They’re innocent in that desire. They’re just like us when we’re upset and blaming someone else for an unmet want of ours. We’re all like that. We should just stay as conscious as possible so that we’re not like that often, and when others are we like that we should forgive them as we would like to be forgiven.

Take the next negative person and just absorb the karma they’re trying to dispel, or convert it to positive energy if you can. Just don’t take it personally. Just be kind by being patient and understanding. That’s one of the most valuable kindnesses you can extend. The happy people never do need a lot of help. Now go create a wonderful day for yourself. 🙂

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations around the world.

Two Different Men

824 Relax and Succeed - You've gotta beThere are several forms my friend Simon comes in. His girlfriend can’t figure him out. Not because she doesn’t love him or get him, but because she’s looking at him as an ego, through the lens of her own ego. She wants him to be consistent and yet she doesn’t notice she’s not either. That innocent lack of awareness will make their “problems” unfixable until they clear their heads.

Here are some of the personas that I’ve seen Simon exhibit: There’s Business Simon. When he’s around his boss or underlings he sounds almost like a radio-announcer he’ll have so much authority in both his word choice and delivery. Sports Simon is so foul-mouthed and debauched that I can’t even begin to tell you what he sounds like. With His Parents Simon is teasing and helpful. Stoned Simon is philosophical and yet terrified his life has no meaning. But under these and all the other variations of Simon there exists two fundamental states of Simon.

Whether he’s Business, Sports, Man-Cave, Husband, Father or whatever other Simon he is–he’ll either be Wanting or he’ll be Appreciating. Different people will like different personas, but what most people see as our base personality is whether or not we are fundamentally optimists or a pessimists. Because birds of a feather often flock together.

824 Relax and Succeed - Complaints gratitudeWhat’s important about that is that there are two fundamental Yous. The one that wants things to be different and the one that is appreciating how things are. Get that choice right and the rest falls into place. Because who cares how many people approve of your persona if you’re often in a state of appreciation? Appreciation feels good. What other people have going on in their heads is what they feel. You feel what you do–so practice appreciating.

Practice? I know, it sounds weird but that’s what all of those monks meant when they talked about practicing Zen. It’s not an achievement. It’s an action. You actively seek things to appreciate until you get to the point where it’s your nature. After that you’re one of the “lucky” ones.

Yeah, I know Wanting Simon. That’s the depressing version his girlfriend struggles to be around. He points out the jobs he didn’t get, his parents shortcomings, various injustices, the cruel nature of the world and he does all of that because he wants to make the world and himself better. But the world is the world. What Simon needs is to see it through his appreciative eyes.

824 Relax and Succeed - Be aware that tomorrow's resentmentsWhen Simon first met his girlfriend he was crazy in love. All he talked to us about was how great she was. And she is great, but you know what? While he was looking at the world and expecting it to be great, he saw greatness all over the place. His dog got smarter, he realized his apartment had character whereas before it just looked old. His siblings were nicer people and his boss wasn’t so stupid. But then the initial high of meeting his still-excellent new girlfriend naturally wore off. And when it did he returned to seeing the world as ugly, himself as unfortunate, and the future as bleak.

Like all of us Simon always has the choice to want or appreciate. One will always hurt, one will always feel good. That isn’t to say the painful one doesn’t have some value. But you can also better yourself without a lot of suffering. The wise people aren’t in robes or speaking in Yoda-like language or capable of remarkable feats of self-abuse. Wise people are the ones enjoying their lives. Wasn’t that the point of gaining wisdom in the first place?

Don’t want a perfect history. Don’t want a perfect now or a perfect future. Just take what you have and appreciate that if what you want is a better day, week, month, year or lifetime. All you have to do is do it. Appreciate. You know you can.  You can start right now.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Our True Selves

If you pay careful attention to the simplicity of what I’m saying you will absolutely see significant changes in your life. Some of these changes will be visible to others, others will leave you feeling differently about your past, present and future. But the important thing is the simplicity.802 Relax and Succeed - If you want to go somewhere

Ready?

If you read this blog then you know I explain some very straightforward things, the first of which is: experiences happen within your consciousness not in an outside world. Things you think and things you do are the same to the real you. It’s why you feel real emotions when you’re dreaming at night. So take a moment to really consider that. And I don’t mean, yeah I got it, I mean assume you don’t get it and look at it closely. Think of examples in your own life.

Next, remember that the experiences you reconsider most often will shape who you believe you are. They do this by becoming the most-repeated thought patterns you think. Your thoughts are like roads. The more you use them the wider and faster the road gets until you’re always taking the easy route–otherwise known as your personality. Always think fearful thoughts and you will become a fearful person.

Critical is remembering that your thoughts are always subject to change. Changing your thoughts is changing your Self. You are literally widening a different road. The nice thing is, when you stop using the old road it deteriorates and eventually it’s a donkey path you barely if-ever use. After about a month of thinking in some new pattern your brain has physically rewired you into a new identity that includes the ability you’ve been practicing, whether that’s juggling or not losing your temper.

802 Relax and Succeed - The best way to predict the futureNow remember that first point: to our true selves psychological experiences are equal to what we perceive as material experiences. That means it is possible for us to live out an experience in our imaginations and our brains will wire us up accordingly, as though we’ve actually already done the thing and done it as well as we’ve imagined. That’s why the kids in that famous study who thought about free-throws ended up improving more than the kids who spent an equal amount of time in the gym actually shooting free throws.

Explaining the above; if we do think something through regularly it allows us to feel more comfortable when we’re going through an actual experience. Whether it’s the feeling of being loved, the death of a loved one, or even going to an audition, if you’ve thought of yourself successfully being in that situation than you will literally have wired your brain up as though it’s already actually been there. It’s done that and it can relax. Because if you’ve been thinking about it, then as far as your true self goes you’ve literally been there before and you survived.

802 Relax and Succeed - This age thing is all up to youDo you see how this means you don’t heal from a broken heart, or from grief, or other suffering? There is no healing. There is only being the healthier version of ourselves. It’s not that we heal in suffering and then suddenly walk away in health. Mental health is when we make healthier use of our minds. If we haven’t practiced that then we have no new wiring to use. No, you don’t wait to get healthy and then start your life. You see yourself as already healthy and then you act that way.

Kids don’t fight illness when they’re little because they don’t know what that is yet. Instead of hoping to be healthy they are excited to live. And they do that until they start to get defeated by the thoughts we teach them. A head cold will last seven days. In relationship breakups it takes three months to recover for every year you’ve dated. This cancer will kill you. We get told all kinds of things in life and yet there’s no shortage of people who didn’t follow those recommendations.

You can’t be and act like a sick person and then just wish and want for health. Nope. You’re in charge. Sorry. No one to hand it off to. But that’s okay. You were given this little spaceship to drive through the universe because the universe knows what it’s doing. Just stop thinking about all the things you can’t do, struggle with, and are worried about, and instead think of your strengths, your victories and what you’re excited about in your future.

802 Relax and Succeed - Be the changeDo not say, I’ll go back to playing basketball when I quit smoking. Say instead: I’m going to start playing basketball so that I have something fun that helps me remember I’m not really a smoker. The only step after that miraculous one is when you realize that you don’t need words and language to feel strong like that.

Please, there’s no need to sit still and heal unless your injuries have you in traction at the hospital and even then you can use your thoughts to help mend you. Enact as much health as you can. When you see some 100 year old lady dancing at her birthday party, her legs might really hurt if she thought about it. But she’s not. She’s excitedly thinking about how fortunate it is that she can dance at her 100th birthday party. Because it’s probably something she had been thinking of doing for most of her life. 😉

If you had any idea of how huge and powerful this ability was you would laugh at how silly many of your problems appear in comparison. You actually are that capability, so it’s time to stop telling yourself that you’re a much more limited being than you really are. Instead go create a great day being the giant capable self that lives within you.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Resistance to Change

774 Relax and Succeed - Perhaps our eyes need to be washedWhen I meet a new student I can pretty quickly tell if they’ll learn what I’m teaching them now or later. I get why the later group wants it to be later. When you already feel overwhelmed who wants someone suggesting that what you need is more responsibility? I get that it’s entirely counter-intuitive. But as with many things we eventually come to understand, the truth is hidden in the apparent paradox.

I know that feeling of profound sadness. Everyone does. No one gets out of life without a healthy dose of all of the feelings. And that sadness–it’s darkness is so heavy. It suffocates your spirit. You simply cannot imagine anyone reaching you there. It is horribly lonely and it steals your spirit to live. People that commit suicide aren’t angry, they’re tired. The suffering just seems so uniform and relentless that there seems to be no point in continuing. And so it makes sense that you might initially hate me for saying you should do more.

I know that anyone who’s feeling down does not want to be there and that you would have tried every sensible thing you could imagine to get yourself out. I have faith in you. At the same time, I know from experience that the answer is more tricky than difficult. The example I often use is learning to multiply numbers. To say it’s hard isn’t accurate, but learning it requires a leap of understanding much like this does.

774 Relax and Succeed - Believe that life is worth livingSo I’m not really asking you to work harder by taking more responsibility, I’m asking you to take it easier by assuming more responsibility. If you will accept only one idea–if you will accept only one responsibility–you will be free of almost all of the others. But before you take it you can’t see why the others would vanish so you resist the change. Even though what you’re doing is leading to sadness you will continue down that path rather than take on weight you don’t think your spirit can handle. Fair enough.

But when you’re ready all you need to do is this one thing, in an albeit pretty profound way: you need to accept the idea of suffering in your life. I know, weird isn’t it? Your suffering disappears if you accept suffering. If you’ll just own when you feel crappy–if you’ll just let that be–then you can shift your way out into better feelings. But if you take the better-feeling time and dedicate it to wishing and hoping that you never had nor never will suffer, then you suffer almost all the time.

Do you see the duality of it? By accepting suffering you give happiness something to contrast against. You can’t find the happiness when there’s no contrast. So if you consistently stay in a state of wanting-to-be-happier then you’re essentially blocking happiness. If you resist suffering then you are inviting more of it by thinking about wanting it gone. As always, appreciation feels good, wanting feels bad.

774 Relax and Succeed - While experiencing happinessThe simple fact is that everyone has been knocked down repeatedly in life. You’ll idolize some music star but ignore the single line in their interview about having “surrendered 10 years to a drug addiction.” 10 years! 3500 agonized days described just like that. Or we treat a Hollywood divorce like it’s somehow less crazily painful than anyone else’s divorce. But we skip past all those dirty details and we note all the good stuff that happened before and after. So why not do the same thing with your own life?

You can’t like being alive all the time or you wouldn’t even know what enjoyment was. So suffering is a mandatory portion of the yin and yang construction of the universe and you literally need it as much as you need happiness. And yet when it comes you send it away as though it doesn’t belong in your life. But it does, so it returns and knocks again and asks you to accept it. But you reject it and reject it and your entire life ends up invested in dealing with nothing but suffering.

Surrender. Allow. Lots of days won’t feel easy to enjoy but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be appreciated. Appreciation is separate from enjoyment. You may not enjoy your workout but you appreciate it helps you enjoy more of the rest of your life. You may not enjoy the company of your mother but without her absolutely none of your life would have ever happened.

774 Relax and Succeed - When you complain you make yourself a victimThe only line you want to draw isn’t between happiness and sadness. That effort just leads to a lot of sadness. No, the only line you want is between worthy of your time or not worth of your time. So feeding yourself is work but it keeps you alive so it’s worthy of your time. We don’t need more happiness we need less meaninglessness.

Way too much of what you do each day is truly and profoundly meaningless. Get rid of ego-based, churning actions like doing things out of obligation, or not asking for help, or even just complaining etc. etc. Forget achievements and being impressive or even liked. Just focus on the value in each moment. It’s much easier than trying to straddle your past and your future simultaneously.

Yes, you will suffer. If you’re suffering now you’re in the perfect position to spot appreciation. The person in the darkest room finds the pinhole of light first. But you can’t see it and complain it’s too small. You have to focus on it and study it, and as you grow closer it will expand to take up much more of your view until all you can see is mostly the light, leaving the darkness to recede to the point where it is only seen as one thing: the frame for all of your happiness.

May peace be with you.

Love, s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.